From social politeness ("please", "thank you", etc) to the technical Japanese grammatical concepts of honorifics and respectful and humble forms known as "keigo".

learn more… | top users | synonyms

8
votes
1answer
134 views

What to say at the cash register in the convenience store

I just came back from Japan, it is my first time, so I found myself in the situations, that I wasn't prepared for. At the convenience store I noticed natives tend not to say much to the staff at all, ...
4
votes
1answer
106 views

Questions about `〜はる` 敬語

One thing I've never fully gotten a grasp on is the 〜はる form of "敬語", and I have some questions about it. Is it official 敬語 recognized by the 文部省, or is it just more of a regionally accepted ...
5
votes
2answers
147 views

Dropping ーさん when referring to someone humbly with 謙譲語

Why aren't we referring to Yamada as Yamada-san in the following sentences taken from the answer to a recent question (which took them from site at: http://www.e-hoki.com/column/current/68.html) ...
5
votes
1answer
114 views

Is 拝見いたしました an example of 二重敬語?

二重敬語 is presumably considered bad style (or simply incorrect). I hear/read 拝見いたしました all the time. Is it an example of 二重敬語? I understood 二重敬語 to be a little more complex than "used a polite form ...
2
votes
4answers
837 views

Is telling a superior, “電子メールを見てくださいました,” correct?

Imagine wanting to tell a superior something along the lines of, "I saw/read/received your e-mail." In Japanese, there's sometimes something with using the te form along with words like くださる and もらう ...
3
votes
3answers
920 views

How to say “no thank you, I don't want / need it”?

Sometimes I am offered something but because I'm just a beginner I don't know what verb they used. I know the proper way to say "no" is to answer with the negative form of the verb the other person ...
0
votes
0answers
41 views

What is the Origin of です? [duplicate]

Where does です come from? I tried reading the kotobank article, but I couldn't decipher most of it, is it a contraction, or is it it's own word? I thought it was a contraction of でございます。
3
votes
2answers
231 views

How to refuse an invitation with a specific reason?

It is commonly taught that the polite way to refuse an invitation is "ちょっと。。。" However, how do you refuse an invitation, while giving a reason? For example, would it still be considered polite to say ...
3
votes
1answer
102 views

Adding でしょうか to ます to further emphasize doubt and politeness?

Let's use できる as an example. できる (I) can do (it)/possible (action/event). できるか? Can do?/Possible? できますか? Can do?/Possible? (polite) Believe it or not, できますか? still sounds too direct to me. Now ...
7
votes
3answers
231 views

How many times should 「お」 and 「ご」 be used in a sentence?

In this Chiebukuro question about whether it should be ご心配無用 or 心配ご無用, one answerer says the following: 「ご」とか「お」で丁寧とか尊敬とかを表す場合、 一番最後のものにだけつけておけば 全体にかかると言われているようです。 たとえば ...
5
votes
4answers
347 views

How to answer -だね question?

So I've come to learn that something + だね means something along the lines of "Is it __?" with an expected yes answer. I received this kind of comment as a response to a photo I posted on the internet. ...
4
votes
2answers
179 views

When and where did 丁寧語 emerge?

I've been reading some old text recently and I find that everybody seems to use plain forms even in polite contexts (like proclamations from the Emperor). When did the modern ます and です come from? I ...
4
votes
2answers
192 views

Choice of さしあげる in お電話さしあげる

I'm a bit confused by the usage of さしあげる in this sentence from Kanji in Context: ただ今、来客中ですので、後ほどこちらからお電話さしあげます。 We have a guest at the moment, so we'll call you later. To me, お電話いたします or even ...
2
votes
0answers
201 views

How important is gendered language in reality? [closed]

Many people say that gendered language is especially important in Japanese. To a point, I can understand this, but only to a certain distance. For example, if I (Fe/male) were to say 'Wow, that show ...
11
votes
2answers
474 views

Addressing a friend's parents when meeting them for the first time

I have met the parents of a close Japanese friend two times in my life and have never been sure how I should address them. Both times I've asked the friend beforehand but never got a satisfactory ...
3
votes
2answers
338 views

With whom to use different honorific forms? 丁寧語より尊敬語・謙譲語・丁重語

With whom is it considered proper to use 尊敬語・謙譲語・丁重語 instead of 丁寧語? I mean saying おいでになります・伺います・参ります instead of 行きます. The often given example is for a service-person speaking with a customer, but ...
2
votes
1answer
206 views

What is the etymology of 〜ません(でした)?

I have always been interested in the negative polite (〜ません) and negative past-polite (〜ませんでした) inflections of verbs. My understanding is that ます is an inflectable function word (助動詞), so I'm ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

Polite way of asking if someone's received an email

What's a polite way of asking in an email if you've received a previous email? In my case, "polite" means "I'm emailing the tourism information staff of a place that mainly deals with domestic ...
6
votes
1answer
367 views

“If I may ask a question, …”

Our teacher taught us to ask for the permission to ask a question by saying「質問してもいいですか。」. Now I'm writing her an email, and would like to say something along the lines of "If I may ask a question, ...
3
votes
1answer
225 views

When speaking with client, how to say “I will tell my coworker”

I have found this in a phone usage manual (電話対応マニュアル) written by a Japanese person: かしこまりました。必ず田中に申し伝えます。それでは失礼いたします。 (speaking to customer over the phone) Understood. I will tell Tanaka (my ...
3
votes
1answer
128 views

Politeness level congruency

This question comes from observing a game show, where the participants have to match a product to the one they consume while blindfolded. They are only allowed to try one product at a time from the ...
9
votes
2answers
241 views

Politeness on Twitter

I tweet in Japanese every once in awhile, sometimes to Japanese people and sometimes to all of my followers. I haven't really been able to figure it out, so how does politeness work on Twitter? Some ...
3
votes
1answer
283 views

How would I respectfully disagree with a peer?

This is probably related to How would I respectfully disagree with a superior? however the context is a tech forum where the thread starter is asking for someone technically advanced to help, and the ...
4
votes
1answer
250 views

When should the polite form of 〜たり be used?

I've noticed that I don't see 〜ましたり used very often, but it does seem to be an accepted form. I believe this form can be broken down like this: 動詞{どうし}の連用形{れんようけい}+「ます」の連用形{れんようけい}+「たり」 My ...
8
votes
1answer
216 views

Is it actually impolite to say ご苦労様 to a superior?

Conventional ビジネスマナー tells us that ご苦労様 is used by superiors to subordinates and お疲れ様 used by everyone, and this is backed up all over the internet and stated on some questions here, like this. But ...
12
votes
1answer
289 views

Should I say 失礼{しつれい}します before hanging up the phone if the other person called me?

Phone etiquette is one of those things I still struggle with at times, often fumbling because I'm not sure what expression I'm supposed to use at a given time. 失礼します at the end of a phone call is one ...
5
votes
1answer
285 views

How should I bid farewell to a superior?

My boss is leaving soon after years of service. What would be a good way for me to express my gratitude for all of his guidance and help? I am somewhat familiar with the expression お世話になりました but am ...
6
votes
1answer
365 views

Difference in nuance between 頂ければと思います, 頂けませんか, and 頂きたいんですけども

I've recently started using the expression 頂ければと思います, but I'm not 100% sure about its precise nuance. Is there any difference in nuance between 頂ければと思います 頂けませんか 頂きたいんですけども? To my non-native ear, ...
5
votes
2answers
306 views

Difference in word use: 父親 母親 両親 父母

I would like to ask about the following words: 父親【ちちおや】 and 母親【ははおや】. They refer to father and mother, right? But why do they exist? When do we use them instead of お父【とう】さん and お母【かあ】さん? I have a ...
7
votes
1answer
187 views

Situational acceptability of politeness and/or honorific use

Consider: I am expected to use polite forms when speaking to someone socially above me. Let's take for example, a teacher. If our relationship improves, and it becomes permissible for me to speak ...
6
votes
2answers
286 views

Addressing children in Japanese

Apologies for the very vague question. I'm unsure of how I'm supposed to address and talk to children - I imagine it varies a little depending on the social situation, and in general I should avoid ...
7
votes
2answers
239 views

Polite form of ~っけ

In my everyday conversations when trying to confirm an understanding or recall a piece of information I am sure I had heard before, I often use (そう)だっけ、だったっけ、and でしたっけ when speaking to equals or 目下の人。 ...
1
vote
1answer
311 views

Japanese small-talk [closed]

As long as the conversation I'm having, follows the chapters in Genki I & II I'm sort of OK but as soon as I try to engage in some small-talk I'm lost! Sentences like ロバートさんは, どんなスポーツが好きですか ...
5
votes
2answers
666 views

How do you say “I don't want to fail” in Japanese? The formal form of it?

I'm asking how do you say something like "I don't want to fail" in Japanese. Yes, in anime they say something like "makenai". But I want to say or write it like an actual Japanese sentence in the ...
6
votes
1answer
173 views

referring to children: 子, 子供, or お子さん?

This is an issue that came up with my host family quite often. I have never been quite clear on which to use. In particular, 子 seems somewhat rude (much to the same effect as 男 or 女). On the other ...
8
votes
2answers
444 views

How to answer someone else's phone?

I am in a Japanese office setup sitting next to my boss. He often gets phone calls but most of the time he is not in his seat. How do I answer his phone say that "This is Mr. XX's seat and this is YY ...
7
votes
1answer
197 views

Why would you use まいります for rain? (降ってまいります)

I ran across this example sentence in a basic dictionary, but I can't figure out what particular meaning まいります has in this context. 雨が降ってまいりました。 Generally speaking, it's used as the humble verb ...
2
votes
1answer
457 views

List of suppletive honorific and humble forms

Is there a reference that lists words whose honorific and/or humble forms are suppletive? For nouns, I am supposing that 父親, 父, and お父さん are different forms of a single noun differing only with ...
3
votes
1answer
263 views

Polite speech and うち よそ

I can't understand the difference between うち and よそ. I learned that they are used in polite speech, for example: ╔════════╦═════════╦═════════════╗ ║ ║ うち ║ よそ ║ ...
7
votes
3answers
3k views

Address someone by their first name, or their last name?

When addressing John Doe, would you say "John-さん", or "Doe-さん"? Does it depend on how polite or formal you're being? Does it also depend on whether the person is a nihonjin, a kankokujin (who have ...
7
votes
1answer
211 views

Is it OK to keep saying ありがとう

I was asking a Japanese person for some help and noticed that I kept saying ありがとうございます over and over as they helped me more. Culturally, is it OK to keep saying it multiple times in Japanese? Would it ...
4
votes
1answer
130 views

Difference between 「来ませんでした」and「来なかったです」 [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is じゃないです equally correct as じゃありません? Both have the same meaning ("did not come") and according to my Japanese co-workers both are acceptable while they can't define the ...
6
votes
2answers
982 views

Is it natural to call elderly men ojiisan?

Is ojiisan an idiomatic word choice for a chronologically gifted man, akin to obaasan for elderly women? For example, when giving your seat to them on the train.
3
votes
3answers
690 views

When to use ご返事 and お返事?

Here is a discussion about whether to use ご返事 and お返事, but there seems to be diverging opinions: ご返事: ご返事 is 謙譲語 (according to No.1) ご返事 is seldom used for 尊敬語 (according to No.5) ご返事 is for 謙譲語 ...
8
votes
3answers
380 views

When should 男の人/女の人 be used instead of 男/女?

My teacher always corrects me when I use 男 or 女 by themselves, without adding の人 to the end of it. But in various Japanese media (music, drama, anime, etc.), I know for sure that I have heard them ...
3
votes
2answers
348 views

Is こんばんは too formal for everyday conversation?

When giving a talk on Japanese, How to talk like a ge1sha, I made a terrible mistake: I invited someone who knew something about the language along. The only times he heckled me was when he reckoned ...
2
votes
2answers
397 views

General rules in negative adjectives in superpolite form

I have trouble trying to find this specific grammar in text books. I have a negative adjective in polite form: 寒くないです I want to use the superpolite form: 寒くないございます That seems right, but I have ...
14
votes
1answer
315 views

Politeness in examination questions

1) Why do Japanese school examination questions get more rude as the year gets higher? In elementary school ...してください。 or ...しましょう。 ... です。 ...ですか。 In junior high school to high school ...
6
votes
1answer
417 views

Was desu and masu originally geisha-speak?

Nihonjin no Shiranai Nihongo (The Japanese language the Japanese people don't know) seems to be claiming, at around 6:20 of this YouTube clip of language-specific portions of episode 4 of the show, ...
4
votes
2answers
303 views

In customer settings, is it ok to ask for keigo to be repeated in more “normal” Japanese?

In the context of restaurants, convenience stores and similar situations, is it ok for a customer to ask for something that was said in keigo (or in manual keigo) to be repeated in more "normal" ...